2013 Road Nationals road race runner up relishes darkhorse role, quietly aims for women’s title
Cycling prognosticator's have been leaning toward South Australia's Tiffany Cromwell to challenge reigning champion Gracie Elvin (ACT) for the 2014 Cycling Australia Road National Championships women's road race in Ballarat on Saturday. Chloe Hosking and Lauren Kitchen are two other names being thrown into the mix as potential winners. And that's just fine by last year's runner up Joanne Hogan.
While Hogan, the 2010 Australian National Road Series champion, has been one of the nation's most consistent women's riders over the past three years, she is receiving very little mention as a race favourite and the Victorian native is enjoying the anonymity.
"I've matured quite a lot as cyclist and as a person over the past two years," Hogan told Cyclingnews. "In the past I may have taken the slight personally which can affect your mental attitude and thus your physical performance. Now, I take everything in my stride and prefer to go unnoticed and fly under the radar. I like being the darkhorse so that my competition doesn't see me coming."
After a tumultuous second half of 2013, Hogan enters the new year with a new team, a new bike and a new attitude and is looking to continue her recent swing of good luck into a national championship title that narrowly eluded her last year after being beaten to the finish by Orica-AIS standout Elvin.
Hogan told Cyclingnews that it was "hard to be so close and then spend the year watching Gracie wear the green and gold stripes."
The 31-year-old was unceremoniously dropped from Bizkaia-Durango in July following the team's mid-season financial crisis, after a year and a half, and the 2011 Amy Gillett Foundation scholarship recipient found herself without a ride for the remainder of year and with dwindling hope of 'doing one better' at this year's Australian championships in Ballarat.
After returning home to Melbourne to resume her nursing career to make ends meet, Hogan joined Boss Racing Team in November at the Tour of Bright and helped the squad finish second overall while individually taking fourth in general classification. To start the year, Hogan captured fourth on stage three of the Bay Cycling Classic before giving a strong showing at the National Criterium Championship on Thursday – a race that saw rivals Elvin and Hosking go down in a seven-rider pileup on just the second of 30 laps.
Both Elvin and Hosking are expected to start on Saturday after suffering only minor cuts and abrasions. Elvin will have the numbers advantage with teammates Carlee Taylor and Jessie MacLean also on deck. Hitec’s Hosking will be flanked by teammate Kitchen, while Hogan will have only fellow Bigla cyclist Taryn Heather to call upon for support if the opportunity arises to fight for the line.
"I know I am out there on my own, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I have had to work hard and make my own opportunities for most of my life. I never mind fighting for what I want, and I want this championship."